By E. John Baron DDS
June 26, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: flossing  

The American Dental Association says that everyone--children through senior adults--should brush their teeth twice a day. However, flossingbrushing is only part of a consistently good oral hygiene routine. The other part is flossing daily. While both practices aim to remove plaque and prevent decay and gum disease, only flossing removes sticky residues from between your teeth and at the gum line. So don't neglect flossing, says Santa Cruz, CA, dentist, Dr. John Baron. It's foundational to your oral health.

What's so bad about plaque?

Yes, flossing removes sticky plaque, that biofilm left over from the foods we eat. Left alone, plaque hardens quickly into a rock-like substance called tartar which pushes gums away from tooth surfaces, causing recession. While only your dental hygienist can remove tartar with manual scaling techniques, you can stay ahead of plaque with routine brushing and flossing at home.

Frankly, the problem with plaque is two-fold. It detracts from the appearance of your teeth and gums, and it contains bacteria that causes bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. The particular microorganism is called Streptococcus mutans, and it secretes corrosive acids that eat away at tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.

Additionally, the Strep germ causes inflammation, making your gums bleed, swell and recede. Diseased gums provide little support for your teeth, and the germs also degrade the integrity of your jaw bone. The eventual results of gum disease, or periodontitis, are tooth mobility, tooth loss and systemic health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and arthritis.

Just a little prevention helps

What's the lesson? Be sure to brush with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste. Stay at it for two minutes twice a day as recommended by the American Dental Association. Also, floss every single day, and it's not as hard as you might think.

Your Santa Cruz dentists say you should use whatever flossing product you are comfortable with:

  • Plain or waxed floss
  • Flavored floss
  • Y-shaped flossers
  • Interdental picks or brushes

Use a clean piece of floss, new brush or new flosser every time. Apply them gently. In other words, don't snap the floss against your gums or scrub too vigorously with the tiny brushes. You want to clean your gums, not abrade and damage them.

If you are new to flossing, expect some bleeding. This will resolve after a day or two.

Flossing Tips

  • Use an 18-inch length of floss. Wind the ends around the middle or index fingers of both hands. Pull it taut, and leave a three to four-inch section free.
  • Gently insert the taut floss between your teeth. Form a C-shape with the floss, and move it up and down, cleaning the tooth surfaces.
  • Proceed systematically around your mouth, and don't forget those back molars.

Learn more

Dr. Baron and his team emphasize preventive dentistry. They'll happily show you the best way to floss to keep your smile bright and healthy. If it's time for your six-month check-up and cleaning, call (831) 426-9200 for an appointment in Santa Cruz, CA.


E. John Baron DDS, INC.
550 Water Street, Suite L-1
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-9200


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